Future Lefts - The Left Is Right

Published: Thu 6 Sep 2001 09:28 AM
Editorial: "The Left is right"
"Mayor McCarten"
All Over the World, to Change it: IUSY Campaign for Debt Relief
The Torysaurs: The Boagapod
Soft News
Website of the Week
Editorial: The Left is right
Hello everyone and welcome back to Future Lefts after a long break. We're now being distributed to you courtesy of Yahoogroups, which now that the miserable Listbot people have switched to a payment scheme, is pretty much the only free Internet delivery system of its type. Thumbs up to Yahoogroups.
It occurred to me this week, that we are pretty much one year out from the beginning of another election campaign. In twelve short months, the Parliament will finish sitting, an election date will be declared, and we will all begin doing what we do every three years in earnest. From this distance, the prospects look good. Without wanting to be negative about it though, one has to ask... well why?
It's just that history tells us that Labour governments have a real difficulty making it beyond one term. Indeed, governments full stop in our recent history have only done so because of electoral anomalies. Recall that following the one term Kirk/Rowling government, Muldoon only won his second and third terms because of the perverse FPP system which let him in on those occasions even though National won fewer votes than Labour. Labour itself then only won in 1987 because it twisted traditional support bases on their heads, and deceived its own people. Then again, in 1993, National would have lost after just one term were it not for difficulties between Labour and the Alliance.
So why, at 50% in some polls and even allowing for a significantly reduced showing next year, does it look so easy for us this time around? Well, quite simply, it's because we've been proven to be right.
I recall that right at the peak of the great 2000AD Business tantrum when National had caught up to us in the polls, and each edition of the evening news featured a new horror story about the terrible loss of greedy young B+ Commerce students to overseas accounting firms, a friend said to me that in spite of it all, he was sure that things would be OK for the government. His reason for such confidence, oddly it seemed given the way in which it was mindlessly being lampooned at the time, was the Employment Relations Act. He was totally confident that given a couple of years to bed in, the benefits of that particular piece of policy (amongst others) would actually become apparent to people. That is, that in the traditional spirit of Labour Parties, the government would really begin to improve the material and social conditions of the great mass of people.
This came home to me courtesy of a couple of figures that have recently come to light. The first being the most recent unemployment figures, which stand at 5.2%, this being the lowest such figure in thirteen years. In the decade that National had in power, they were incapable, unwilling even to bring unemployment down to this level. Yet, after just two years (and some favourable exporting conditions), this governments pro-active approach has meant real gains for New Zealanders, particularly in the most depressed regions of the country. All this in spite of the ERA, which we were told by big business would destroy jobs. The right was wrong, we were right.
Indeed the ERA itself was the cause of the next set of encouraging figures I heard. After years of miniscule increases that did not approach the cost of living, Union members at my place of work received a 5.5% increase over two years and a number of other benefits.
This is where it really counts, this is the sort of information that ordinary people will use to decide whether to continue supporting the government. It isn't post-material, it isn't complicated, it's just a simple calculation – has government policy left them better off?
Yep. The Left is right
Till next time, Editor.
Mayor McCarten
Probably the most significant political decision to be taken in this country over the past few weeks has been largely glossed over by the inept national media, aside from a two minute silly slot on One Network News. Alliance President Matt McCarten's decision to run for the Auckland mayoralty has significant implications beyond what is immediately apparent – implications that have the potential to strengthen the Left in New Zealand significantly in the medium term.
The move, which pitches McCarten against incumbent Mayor and former moderate National MP Christine Fletcher, and former moronic National MP John Banks, has some on the Left concerned that the anti-Banks vote will be split allowing the bigot from Whangarei a free run to the Mayoral chains. This is a valid concern and echoes the situation that occurred in the US Presidential election last year. The McCarten campaign argue that there is little real difference between the other two candidates, and that without their input, Auckland voters have no real choice. Certainly, McCarten's policy pledges, including guaranteed public ownership of existing assets, and declaring Auckland a GE-free zone mark him out as a genuinely different option. It's a real conundrum for Left voters – do you vote for the tolerable Tory with a good chance, or the genuine Socialist with a slim chance, and run the risk of letting in the psychotic Tory? As ever of course, one's vote is a political calculation. The width of the gap between Fletcher and Banks in the polls closer to voting time will undoubtedly sway many. That is assuming of course that McCarten's campaign, which to date has proven more media savvy and energetic, indeed more visible full stop than the other two put together, doesn't surprise us all and take a lead.
In any case, this is peripheral to the wider ramifications of the move. In the first instance, the McCarten Mayoral campaign, in combination with an aggressive Alliance campaign for the Auckland Regional Council, seem to be signs of a restive Party membership making real moves to re-invigorate a Party suffering from low morale in the light of poor poll showings. This on one hand may be seen as an over reaction, given the proven ability of Jim Anderton and the Alliance to campaign well, and inflate its support in an election campaign. It must be remembered that aside from the trendy and often vacuous Greens, all of the other minor Party's generally inhabit the polling cellars, often below the Alliance. They will come up in 2002.
On the other hand, it is a sign of an underlying strength characteristic of the Alliance, and to a lesser extent now, Labour. As opposed to the Party's of the right, whose supporters will tend to do alright no matter who is in power, it is the coalition of groups on the left – the poor and the marginalised who have the most to lose if the other side get in. This makes for a real and committed activist base that the Right simply does not have. It is this activist base that seems in large part to be the driving force behind this burst of energy in the Alliance. Should their campaigning really kick into life, they will be providing the Alliance, and more generally, the ideals of the Left with some very good exposure, while at the same time building a well oiled campaigning machine that can bring home the bacon next year.
Of course, deeper strategic motives may well be bubbling just below the surface of the McCarten mayoral campaign. With an election just around the corner, and a leader whose age will become an issue in the short to medium turn, there is an ever present question as to whether McCarten will make the move from President, to MP, and an influential MP at that. He certainly has the political skills and broad base of support to do so if he chooses. He would bring a welcome dose of street smarts, commitment, and experience to the government benches. The mayoral campaign could be just the springboard for his profile and views necessary to make that leap from the administrative, to political wing of the Alliance.
Whether or not this speculation turns out to be well founded or not, one thing is for sure: watch this space. Win or lose, this campaign is an important one.
All Over the World, to Change it: IUSY Campaign for Debt Relief
Young Labour is an active member of the International Union of Socialist Youth. This column looks at some of their activities.
The issue of Third World debt relief was pretty much shrugged off at this years G(reedy)8 meetings, but it is still very much in the sights of the earnest International Union of Socialist Youth! Good bloody job too – the present situation is simply appalling. The amount given to the Third World by the West's paltry aid programmes is dwarfed by the huge sums that they spend servicing their debts to us. Meanwhile the people suffer. Here're a few facts from the IUSY website:
"Since the beginning of the 1980s the poorest countries have seen their development dragged down by the weight of debt. Nevertheless growth has been generalised throughout the world - by more than 3 per cent a year in the advanced economies as a whole - but the highly indebted poor countries - HIPCs - have derived no benefit from that. The debt of the poorest countries has risen to $350 billion. In Africa the debt represents 60 per cent of the GNP. Efforts at debt reduction have so far been clearly insufficient. It is not longer possible to be content with partial solutions - such as reschedulings and refinancings -; which just postpone the problem rather than tackle it."
Have a look at what they plan to do about this (slightly out of date) at:
And have a look at their very detailed analysis of the situation (that they annoyingly only have for viewing in PDF format) at: - then click on the "campaigns" link.
The Torysaurs
Long long ago, in an age that few remember, and fewer want to, there lived a breed of creatures so privileged, so conceited, and so haughty that they managed to fool all others to bow before them.
In time however, a combination of poor genetic variation, caused by excessive in-breeding, and preposterously small brains, led to their demise, and replacement by an evolutionarily superior, and generally more attractive breed.
So let's take a walk my friends back through the annals of history to those dim dark ages when the Torysaurs ruled the earth.
Today we profile:
This week: The Boagapod Genus: Outtamyfuckinwayus
The Boagapodus is a genuine archaeological curiosity. In the first instance, one is struck by this particular specimen's outlandish appearance. Sporting an array of gaudy colours that had the ability to alter depending on environmental factors, the Boagapod clearly used its outrageous appearance, along with an incredibly hard shell made of a hair like substance that encased the creatures upper head, to ward off potential challengers.
In this sense however, the Boagapod was an evolutionary throw back, because it had no genuine challengers. Interestingly, the Boagapod rose to prominence as a species at the very end of the Neoliberalus era. It was at this point of course that the survival of the Torysaurs as a species was in such serious doubt, that a frilly and rather flighty breed such as the Boagapod had the opportunity to establish itself as a major evolutionary player.
When cornered, or forced into action, the Boagapod could do little but puff itself up and present a frightening face to its enemies. After making sufficient noise to scare off anything in its way, Boagapod tended to revert to a deeper shade of blue, and carry on not having actually achieved anything.
Soft News
The standoff over the Afghani refugees North of Australia has moved towards resolution courtesy of the New Zealand government's bold humanitarian move to accept 150 of the boat people. The rest are being transferred to Nauru, generously referred to by Paul Holmes as a "big pile of bird shit" for further processing. John Howard continues to take the wimpish election year line that Australia will not accept any. He is backed by Pauline Hanson and Jenny Shipley. What a great bunch of people.
Jim "spud" Bolger has been appointed as Chair of the new People's Bank. When questioned by Paul Holmes as to whether he saw this as odd in light of the fact that he led a right wing government hell-bent on divesting itself of similar assets, Bolger replied that he "had great empathy with people left out by the market". Yeah, like the time his government cut the incomes of beneficiaries by a total of one billion dollars. The consolation is that it's bound to piss off and confuse Jenny Shipley, which isn't in itself more difficult than say, breathing.
As of August 31st, the country's Tertiary institutions signed up to the government's new, improved fee-freeze funding offer. Clearly this will be a relief to students, who now for the second year in a row are faced with fees that are actually dropping in real terms. This fulfills Labour's pledge to reduce the cost of Tertiary education. The message from the institutions is clear however - a great deal more funding is needed very soon to keep standards up.
Michelle Boag has been in fine form this week. Coming to the realisation that her Party is led by deadbeat hacks, she has called for a cull, and some new blood! Future Lefts humbly suggests a rotational roster system. Basically, all 400 or so alive members of the National Party can go on a roster, and take turns being an MP. Every month or so, they rotate. This should work to reduce the curious ability of National MP's to say something completely moronic every six weeks or so.
The results of the Fijian elections are beginning to trickle in. The elections were conducted under relatively peaceful and conditions. Early polling data suggests that the Labour Party of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudray should have sufficient seats to form a government. One candidate, who was defeated by one of Chaudray's former Ministers demonstrated the enlightened attitude of his political friends when he queried: "How can the Indians be trusted!".
The Knowledge Wave is coming. Really
Website of the Week.
First up the brand new sparkling Labour Party website. This is a quantum improvement on the previous version:
Secondly, and because we have highlighted it in this edition, have a look at Matt McCarten's mayoral campaign site:
All submissions should be to the editor, Michael Wood, at
While this newsletter is published in the name of Young Labour, the content is entirely the responsibility of the editor and the views expressed here don't constitute any official position of Young Labour.
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